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Shuttle Discovery makes historic last touchdown
Posted On: Mar 10, 2011
Space shuttle Discovery lands at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Photo: NASA.
CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA (AFP):
The oldest and most travelled space shuttle, Discovery, Wednesday landed back on Earth after its final space flight and will now end its days as a museum piece to delight the crowds.
The shuttle cruised onto the runway at Kennedy Space Centre at 1657 GMT, wrapping up a rich, 27-year career in spaceflight that has spanned more distance and endured longer than any of the remaining three US shuttles.
"And Houston, Discovery. For the final time, wheelstop," Commander Steve Lindsey said when the orbiter came to a halt on the runway.
Discovery's arrival back on Earth marks the beginning of the end for the three-decade old US shuttle programme, which will formally close down after Endeavour and Atlantis take their final spaceflights in the coming months.
"This legend has spent 365 days in space," NASA mission control in Houston said, noting that over the course of its 39 missions, Discovery has logged almost 241 million kilometers.
Discovery's last trip to the International Space Station was initially scheduled to last 11 days but was extended to 13 so that astronauts could work on repairs and install a spare room.
The new permanent module they brought to the orbiting lab adds 21 by 15 feet of extra room for storage and experiments.
Astronauts also carried the first humanoid robot to the International Space Station (ISS), though it spent most of its time wrapped in packing materials and will not become fully operational for some time.
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